Fire and police departments across the metro are dealing with a huge issue: The silver Tsunami. So many in the ranks are retiring and it's causing concern.

More than 1,200 firefighters and police officers statewide are old enough to call it a career. This year in Minneapolis, 40 officers and seven firefighters have retired.

Those retirements are part of the reason why the fire department launched a first-of-its-kind program, recruiting inner-city teens. It starts in a classroom at Roosevelt High School.

"This is gonna be tough, but stay with it," Minneapolis Fire Chief John Fruetel said. "We need to start earlier and basing our recruitment and meet development of growing our own firefighters and that's what led to this."

They created a class specifically for seniors in hopes of sparking their interest in just one day to be a fire fighting in Minneapolis.

"They wanted to take our students, which have always been a rich mix of ethnicities, and use their linguistic and cultural skills to diversify the department," Kari Slade with Roosevelt High School said.

Right now, only 1/3 of the city's firefighters are people of color.

"If you look at our class here, it's quite diverse," said Kalia Vang, a senior.

In fact, 75 percent of the students on campus are minorities. That's why the fire department chose Roosevelt for a test run of the recruiting program.

First, the students read about procedures and then they actually do them. They learn how to take a pulse or temperature and how to stabilize someone who's sick.

"If we can get people to take as much education as we can, I think we're all better off," Paramedic Kai Hjermstad said. The Minneapolis Fire Department paid $50,000 for the program and believes even if students don't decide to become firefighters, they might consider becoming a paramedic, nurse or doctor.

All of the students in the program are seniors. At the end of the year long program, they can take a test to become certified emergency medical responders. The students also get college credit for the class.

Beth McDonough, KSTP, December 14, 2014

Last updated by drogalla : 2015-08-26 14:47:15